African governments have been urged to support the growth of publishing firms through favourable policies that will enable publishers reach a wider culture.
The International Publishing Association (IPA) President, Hugo Setzer said the publishing industry plays a key role in driving quality education in the country, hence should be protected from censorship.
He said Africa has great potential in the industry which ought to be nurtured for the continent to be a universal leader in the 21st century.
Setzer made the remarks on Friday during the International Publishers Association Seminar with the theme ‘Realising Africa’s potential as a global publishing leader in the 21st Century’ held at a Nairobi hotel.
The two-day seminar that had drawn publishers from across the continent aims at helping Africa realise its potential globally in the publishing sector, a move that will enable the continent utilise its indigenous languages which has been declining.
“The publishing eco-system needs a balance between the different people in the value chain to improve access and ensure that international copyright is stable,” said Setzer.
Setzer at the same time, advised the continent’s publishers to explore new ways of reaching readers through using African languages in their dissemination.
This is in line with the spirit of Ubuntu, “I am what l am because of who we are, therefore let us enrich the world with the books we publish,” he added.
Speaking at the event, the Kenya Publishing Association (KPA), Chairman, Lawrence Njagi commended the Kenyan government for formulating proper policies that have improved publishing sector in the country.
Njagi explained that of the 6500 languages spoken in the world, 1500 are spoken in Africa, of which 60 percent of the languages are declining, and urged African countries especially Kenya to embrace publishing in local dialects.
He asserted thatthe government has promoted the publishing business as it has contributed 80 percent of all publishing revenues.
The chairman affirmed that the publishing sector is working together with the government to formulate proper and timely policies especially now when the country is shifting from old to new curriculum.
“We are very lucky that we have a listening government that has implemented the 1:1 student book ratio policy where each student gets a book,” Njagi said.
He said there is need for the government to draft tough legislation to curb piracy as the publishing industry has been losing out on an estimated 30 percent of their total revenue to piracy.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) CEO and Director, Dr. Julius Jwan said that the government has managed to supply 111 million textbooks to both secondary and primary schools, saying it is a boost to the publishing industry.
Dr. Jwan added that the government has allowed open tendering to allow equal competition in the publishing business.
By Peter Ochol/Bernadette Khaduli